Why the World is Crazy (leaflet)
For thousands of years, religions have told us that “love our neighbor” would make the world a better place, and most of us have tried that. But we’re still tormented by war, poverty, and other ills. We’ve been blind to how our efforts are subverted by the institutions of hierarchy and property, institutions so normalized and universal that a world without them is hard to imagine. But such a world is possible. The unkindness all around us is not in our nature, but in our culture, which we can change.
We take hierarchy for granted, and praise so-called “representative democracy.” But hierarchy concentrates power, and power corrupts, as the Stanford Prison Experiment proved. We see it all around us, at every level: Authoritarians beat their children, white men discriminate against people of color and women, bosses bully workers, guards torture inmates, and police shoot the poor. Our politicians start wars to make themselves richer, and lie to cover it up – yet we honor them; evidently we suffer from a national Stockholm syndrome. Throughout our society, we need to replace hierarchical coercion with horizontal networking.
And we take private property for granted; it’s hard for us to imagine any alternative. Some people praise the market, and attribute to it democracy, efficiency, or innovation, but actually it produces none of those. Trade increases inequality, which is now enormous, and Gilens and Page have proved we are ruled by the rich. Our jobs lack meaning; that’s why we hate Mondays. We can’t care about others while competing against them, so separate property causes separate lives, alienation, random shootings, suicidal bombings. Corporations don’t pay for externalities, unmeasured side effects of their sales, including war, poverty, and the collapse of the ecosystem. Selfishness is not superficial corruption that can be reformed away; rather, it is the basis of our economic system and our whole way of life. We must replace it with a different system altogether.
Modern technology magnifies our problems. We may all die soon by nuclear war, runaway warming, or a plague created by some mad scientist.
A better world is possible. You’ll see proof of that if you just look inside yourself, for we are all one flesh and blood. We’ll only be made safe by a culture of caring and sharing that leaves no one behind, so no one wants to hurt us.
Consensus and harmony can’t be imposed by force, so I speak not of war but of wakening. Perhaps the 1% in power will never be persuaded, but they will run away when the remaining 99% of us become united. The first step is to get more people talking about the better world we all want.